Sure, everyone wants to know how to take amazing group photos – and if you're the “photographer” at the time, and your friends are like, “hey grab your camera so we can get a shot together”!
Pressure's on, now. Everyone's waiting…..
You know what you need now? Some self-belief. Let's build your confidence then and get you to where you want to be so that next time, instead of going wobbly at the knees and leaving the pop-up flash on with the lens cap still attached, saying “yeah….sure” all nervously, you can feel totally ready.
Rather than Group Portraits per se, we're looking today more at “Group Shots”, a more informal approach if you like. We're going to touch on the following: Posing Tips, Camera Settings and General Tips.
Top Posing Tips for Group Shots
- If you're at a birthday for example and you're shooting a group of family and/or friends, consider placing the main subject (i.e. the person celebrating their special day) in the center.
This works well when everyone is looking at the person – loads of laughs here, please and also everyone looking at the camera too!
- If we're still considering less formal shots, place taller members at the back of the group – this is great not only to stop blocking people but also keeping heads on different levels which makes it a pretty fool-proof and basic way of improving your compositions.
- Have some fun! Get groups to move or be at ease, it doesn't have to feel rigid – even getting people to walk slowly allows a look of some flow and creates natural “posing.” This can work both walking away from and toward the camera/photographer.
- Get everyone to raise their chins – no one likes to look like they've got a double chin! Your group will thank you later on, I assure you.
Get Your Camera Stuff Right
This can be the part which makes many photographers stumble and slow down their flow of a situation. This isn't to say you should be rushing your group portrait shots at all, but just to have ideas in your mind when assessing the environment and available light is very helpful!
For a large group, you'd be considering an 18mm approximately. As you'd expect, this allows for capturing a wider field of view and therefore more people in the frame.
If we're talking prime lenses, consider something wide still but be prepared to move around to get the frame just how you want it. The trade-off with this is that you're able to get nice sharp images…more consistently.
There are of course, focal lengths to suit different situations, but having something capable of wider shots is gonna save you most the time- ideally a wider aperture (like an f/2.8) would be favorable for allowing maximum light into the lens.
Your Aperture Settings
I won't go into the basics of understanding aperture but will instead dive right into a couple of recommendations. When
When considering which aperture for taking portraits (even group ones) you're going to want a relatively shallow depth of field so your group isn't a secondary focus because your background is too busy and distracting.
Shoot in Aperture Priority mode so you have complete control over the setting you're going to use. Now, it's all down to discretion as there's no right or wrong way here folks but what I will say is yes, choose a nice wide aperture but not so wide that the focus of outer group members falls off.
If you can keep some distance between your subjects and their background, you're in for a better chance of getting some separation between them and your background i.e. “blurred” out.
Consider using this standard feature on your camera where the available light is just not quite up to what you require to brighten up faces. On this note regarding exposure, avoid harsh sunlight unless it's diffused by some tree or building shade.
You've also got diffused fill in flash to play with too if you're looking to fill in some shadows of people's faces.
Utilize Your Camera's ISO
Here's my tip for the day. Bump up your camera's ISO as much as you can to get the shot – this could mean some digital noise, I accept this but missing the shot because of people's faces (eyes in particular) are out of focus is just a huge bummer!
There have been countless times I've been “scared” to raise my Nikon's ISO higher than I thought I should, resulting in images not quite up to the focus they should have been! A little noise (which you can also “limit” in post production) is better than an awesome photo out of focus.
General Tips to Take Amazing Photos
Firstly, we'll touch on Light. This guide is geared mainly toward natural light, particularly outdoors but that doesn't mean to say you should just “hope” for the best.
Assess the light, do you need a large reflector for any faces not quite exposed right (i.e. some shadows hovering over their faces)? You might even need some fill in flash for smaller groups of 2 or 3 – ideally diffused because no one would ever recommend straight on flash – it's a very bad look.
What angle is the light coming from and what time of day are you shooting – consider whether you might do well to wait until the sun begins to set for that golden glow in your images with some beautiful backlit shots thrown in there too!
Get Creative – You Don't Always Need Faces
Take Several Shots – One of Them Will be a Winner!
Keep it Natural – Get People to Share a Joke!
Get Low and Wide for an Awesome Angle
Get in Close – Even the Smaller Details Matter!
There we have a place for you to start if you happen to be the one with the camera – which you should be, you're the photographer, remember. This subject's quite broad which is why I narrowed it down to more informal shots rather than more “posed” group portraits, which naturally tend to require a great deal more technique and planning. All comments welcome!
Further Resources – How to Take Amazing Group Photos
- How to Pose Large Groups Organically: A 3-Step Guide to Beautiful Group Photos by William Petruzzo
- 12 Tips for More Enjoyable Group Portraits by Jason D. Little
- 10 Fool-Proof Posing Tips For Group Portraits by Jim Harmer | Improve Photography
- How to Take Great Group Photos By Darren Rowse | DPS
Once you've learned the concept of how to take amazing group photos, learn the fundamentals of Lightroom Editing and make your images really work for YOU by getting the best out of them.
We recommend this fantastic course by the guys at Photography Concentrate – Super Photo Editing Skills.